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As I rebuilt the server a while ago, I started thinking back to all the computers that I’ve ever own. Here’s my attempt to list them out along with estimated prices. This should be good for a laugh in 20 years. Aside from the first computer, none of these prices include monitors. This list only includes computers that I purchased new, not used ones I bought or was given.

  • 1998 – Gateway Pentium 2 350 with a 10GB hard drive and a tape backup.
    • I bought this when I was heading off to college. I don’t remember the exact price but it was somewhere between $2000 and $2500 which was pretty much all the money I had left. It lasted me all the way through college though.
  • 2002 – Dell P4 2.4GHz with 512MB RAM and an 80GB hard drive. $900
  • 2006 – Dell Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz with 2GB RAM and a 250GB hard drive. $1200
    • This one is still in use 8 years later! It’s running Windows Media Center 24/7. It can record 4 HD video streams and serve them simultaneously to the three XBox360s around the house. One wall of the case is a cardboard beer box, but this thing still runs like a champ.
  • 2010 – Core i7 860 2.8GHz quad core with 8 GB RAM. $1000
    • This was the first computer that I built on my own. It became my file server and is the machine that had the CPU and motherboard replaced earlier this month.
  • 2011 – Lenovo Thinkpad Edge $700
    • I can’t find any info about this, but it was the first laptop we bought for Tyla after we got married.
  • 2012 – Core i7 3770 3.4GHz quad core with 16GB RAM. $1400
    • While I retrofitted the 2006 and 2010 computers with SSDs, this was the first one that started life with an SSD in it.
  • 2013 – HP Pavilion Touchsmart 15-b154nr AMD A8-4555M quad core 1.6GHZ and 6 GB of RAM. $550
    • Though I had used many laptops from work, this was the first one I ever paid for. We got it for Tyla when her previous laptop died a surprisingly early death.

This last desktop computer from 2012 is still plenty fast and I would be very hard pressed to find any excuse to update it. Maybe once we start seeing 8 core CPUs then I’ll make the jump.

Our current laptop (the HP), on the other hand, has been a pretty big disappointment. It’s my fault for being cheap. I bought the most inexpensive laptop with a touchscreen that I could find and yikes, it’s not great. The biggest flaw is the 5400 rpm hard drive that you can’t replace without tearing apart the entire machine. If I could just put an SSD into it, it would probably be fine, but I’m not very confident that I’d ever get the machine physically back in one piece after installing it. We’re trying to eek out two years with it but hopefully it will be replaced soon and I will not be going cheap.

It’s fun to look back at the performance/price ratio even in just 16 years. Moore's Law is alive and well!

[UPDATE] Changed Murphy's to Moore's. Thanks Jim. Although accidentally typing Murphy's makes it a true statement as well.

On the baseball field, we used to say that “he’s so bad he couldn’t catch a cold.” Oh so funny, I know, but what about when the weather turns cold? Do you remember hearing that you should dress warm so you don’t catch a cold?

It’s amazing how long this saying has survived. Back before Louis Pasteur figured out germs in the 1860s, this was a pretty valid saying. But now that we know that germs make you sick, why would you say that the temperature of the air can have an effect on your health?

This probably started because winter is cold and flu season. You’re more likely to stay inside which means you probably have more contact with other people which means diseases spread more easily.

Of course, cold weather can hurt you physically. If it gets cold enough, you’ll get hypothermia, frostbite, etc. But just walking outside without a hat when it’s 20 degrees is not going to make you more likely to get sick.

The Seahawks squared off this week against the Santa Clara 49ers who were coming off their incredibly embarrassing defeat by the Raiders. You knew the 49ers were going to be angry and they looked really good for the first half. I thought the Seahawks might be in trouble. Both Gore and Hyde were running through a Seattle defense that looked like Swiss cheese. Luckily for the Seahawks, they both got injured. Six sacks of Kaepernick didn’t hurt either (though Wilson was also sacked five times.) Couple the Seahawks win with a Packers loss and we might be watching playoff games from Century Link.

In our league, my easy prediction from last week held true. Austin annihilated me as my championship hopes drifted away like a fart in the wind. Jim also topped Tim so Austin and Jim will square off for the top spot. This would be Jim’s second victory (2007) or Austin’s first. Tim and I are the only two left in the money pool so we’ll battle it out for third place and the money. The power rankings say that Austin and I will win. My money is definitely on Austin but the other game is a tossup.

  1. Austin (--)
  2. Jim ( 1)
  3. Ben ( 1)
  4. Tim (--)

Now on to the weekly awards.

  • Highest Team Score
    • This Week: Austin had 175.38
    • Season: In week 14, Austin had 187.41
    • All-Time: In 2013, Tim had 195.50
  • Lowest Team Score
    • This Week: Dad had 64.19
    • Season: In Week 3, Luke had 55.04
    • All-Time: In 2011, Luke had 47.01
  • Biggest Blowout
    • This Week: Austin beat Ben by 90.43
    • Season: In week 8, Austin beat Dad by 103.48
    • All-Time: In 2010, Luke beat Andy by 113.02
  • Closest Win
    • This Week:  Logan beat Andy by 25.68
    • Season: In Week 2, Austin beat Ben by 1.7
    • All-Time: In 2012, Jim beat Ben by 0.12
  • Highest Scoring Player
    • This Week: Odell Beckham Jr. had 36.84 for Austin
    • Season: In Week 8, Ben Roethlisberger had 56.78 for Dad
    • All-Time: In 2013, Peyton Manning scored 60.28 for Andy
  • Longest Winning Streaks:
    • Active:  Austin has a 5 game winning streak
    • Season: Ben had a 6 game winning streak
    • All-Time: In 2011, Micah had an 8 game winning streak
  • Longest Losing Streaks:
    • Active: Andy has a 5 game losing streak
    • Season: Andy has a 5 game losing streak
    • All-Time: In 2011, Kyle had a 14 game losing streak

I spent the first eight years at this company with the title of “Software Development Engineer in Test.” A few months back, there was a company-wide change and now there’s no such thing as someone who specializes in testing. We’re all “Software Engineers” and we’re all expected to both develop and test the product in our normal daily work. There are pros and cons to each method, but I think the switch is going to be a good move and aligns us with the current industry trends. The idea is that you’re responsible for your feature from the time it’s planned, while it’s being written, as it’s being readied for shipping, and while the customer is using it (telemetry, etc.) You own it and you don’t get to hand it off to anyone to be your safety net.

So now I’m not only out of the manager track and back in the individual contributor pool, but I’m also a “software engineer” instead of a “software development engineer in test.” They’re both pretty big changes to my day-to-day activities but I’m still loving my job!

I have a small work area, but I’ve often wished that I had a table I could walk around for easier assembly of projects. I’ve also felt like I should have an outfeed table for the table saw to aid in cutting large pieces of wood. I was able to accomplish both with a single project. The plans come from the November issue of Family Handyman (an excellent magazine!) It’s built out of a single 3/4” piece of plywood so it’s pretty economical. And the plans are cleverly made so that you can cut the plywood into three 32” strips. I had that done right at Home Depot so it was easy to get home and maneuver around on the table saw. Obviously a bigger table would be nice but this has already come in very handy!

I also attempted to make this into a downdraft table (think of an air hockey table in reverse.) it would help catch dust particles from sanding, etc. There are a little over one hunded 5/16” holes in the top (that adds up to the 2.5” hose size). I drilled a hole in the side for the shop vac, but it probably should have gone in the bottom. It turns out not to matter because the shop vac doesn’t move enough air to make this very useful. If I can find an old furnace motor I might try to hook that up. It wasn’t a big loss though. The modifications to the plans were minor to try this. The top was already a box to make it easier to clamp things to the surface.

I’ve been on a mission to get more dust into my shop vac and out of my garage. Previous projects have left a lot of dust on everything. The table saw is a pretty big culprit. I came up with a very simple solution. I cut a few pieces of 1/4” MDF and made a wedge-shaped box under the table saw. It’s all held together with tape until I’m convinced it works and then I’ll glue/screw it together. So far so good. I can use this without a shop vac attached and most of it stays in the box or I can use the shop vac while I’m cutting. A lot of dust still escapes upward from the blade but catching that requires a much more involved system. This is a good solution using parts that were already in my garage.

Back in October, I finally decided on some Christmas lights and bought them. I decided to go with really nice stuff and add a little bit each year since it’s a little pricey. Tim came over to lend a hand and we got them up in under an hour. I’m really happy with the end result, but I’m eager to add more next year.

On a side note, I find it interesting that the house lights show up as different shades of white. It’s not very obvious to the naked eye. The three on the left are LED and the one up by the house is still CFL. Looking at it without a camera, it appears that all the colors of white (including the Christmas lights) match which was the intended goal.

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